Associate Professor Michael O'Connor


Associate Professor, School of Medicine


Michael is interested in using human stem cells to better understand normal human development and disease progression. His current research uses human pluripotent stem cells (i.e. cells that can produce any cell type of the body) to learn more about the causes of, and potential new treatments for, cataract, macular degeneration and other diseases of ageing such as gut motility disorders. Michael obtained his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2005, creating an animal-based culture system that can regenerate functional ocular lenses in the laboratory. Upon completing his PhD Michael undertook postdoctoral studies in Vancouver (Canada), where he identified new genes and mechanisms that help maintain the developmental potential of human pluripotent stem cells. Michael has received numerous awards for his work in both the eye and human pluripotent stem cell fields, and together these diverse areas of expertise provide a unique opportunity to understand human diseases using human cells. Throughout his career, Michael has also maintained an interest in translating academic research findings into biotechnology or clinical applications, through interactions with both Australian and Canadian biotechnology companies, and his Executive roles at the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research (Nov 2010 to Dec 2016).

Research Interests

  • Cataract/Presbyopia/Lens Development
  • Macular Degeneration/Retinal Development
  • Human Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • Regenerative Medicine


  • The International Society for Stem Cell Research, 2005-ongoing
  • The Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research, 2010-ongoing
  • The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2000-ongoing

Qualifications and Recognition

  • Elected President, Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research, 2014-2016
  • Elected Vice-President, Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research, 2013-2014
  • Elected Secretary, Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research, 2010-2012
  • ARVO-Asia Translational Vision Summit Award, 4 Feb 2017
  • National Foundation for Eye Research, USA, J.I. Travel Award, Dec 2015
  • Canadian Stem Cell Network Travel Award, 2009
  • International Consortium of Stem Cell Networks Travel Award, 2009
  • Invited Finalist, 10th Annual Royan Institute Award, 2009
  • Invited Finalist, STEM CELLS Journal, 3rd Annual Young Investigator Award, 2008
  • PhD University of Sydney, 2005
  • International Society for Cellular Therapy Special Travel Award, 2005
  • Santos Travel Grant, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Conference, 2004
  • 1st Prize, 6th International Conference on Cellular Engineering, 2003
  • John Irvine Hunter Research Prize, University of Sydney, Australia, 2003
  • BSc University of Melbourne

Research and Publications

Contact Details
Telephone+61 2 4620 3902
LocationBuilding 30, Campbelltown Campus